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Social identities and friendships: A longitudinal study of support for social identities

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This longitudinal study tested the hypothesis that relationship-specific support for social identities (e.g., student, athlete, romantic partner) would predict levels of closeness and contact in college students' friendships. One hundred first-year college students completed measures of closeness, contact, and support for identities, pertaining to three new, same-sex friendships. During their sophomore year, 86 of the participants provided follow-up information about each friendship. Analyses conducted across participants and across friendships of the same participants indicated that students were more likely to maintain closeness and contact with friends who provided higher levels of support for identities. Additionally, in several analyses, support for identities predicted closeness and contact even after controlling for general relationship-specific support. Results suggest that support for social identities is a distinct type of social support with consequences for interpersonal relationships.
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... We define social identity support (or, simply, identity support) as the degree to which individuals believe that another person understands, accepts, or provides instrumental support for valued social identities (Weisz & Wood, 2000). Social identities are aspects of self-definition related to social groups, categories, and roles (Deaux, 1992(Deaux, , 1993. ...
... 830). However, identity support differs conceptually from more general social support because it reflects more specific forms of understanding and help concerning identity-related self-perceptions, obligations, and goals (Weisz & Wood, 2000). The study reported here tested whether identity support within friendships predicted friendship outcomes independent of the level of general, relationship-specific support people thought they received from friends. ...
... This article reports findings from a 4-year longitudinal study of college students' same-sex friendships. Data from the first 2 years of the study indicated that identity support was positively correlated with ratings of relationship closeness measured at the same time point, even after controlling for general relationship-specific social support as measured by Pierce's (1994) Quality of Relationships Inventory (QRI) support scale (Weisz & Wood, 2000). Initial ratings of identity support also predicted levels of closeness with a friend 1 year later, after controlling for initial levels of closeness and QRI support. ...
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This longitudinal study tested the hypothesis that social identity support would predict the long-term status of first-year college friendships. Social identity support refers to perceived support for valued aspects of the self that are related to identification with social groups, categories, and roles. First-year undergraduates (N = 100) reported levels of closeness, contact, general support, and social identity support for new same-sex friendships. Logistic regression analyses indicated, as expected, that social identity support predicted whether or not a new friend would be a best friend 4 years later, after controlling for initial levels of closeness, contact, and general relationship-specific social support. Social identity support, however, did not predict status as a mere friend at follow-up. The results regarding best friend status suggest that social identity support may be a unique form of social support that contributes to the development of close relationships.
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... 361). These connections are sought through associations that support their social identity like ethnicity, social roles (athletes), membership in organizations (sorority) (Weisz & Wood, 2000), 'social smoking' (Waters, Harris, Hall, Nazir & Waigandt, 2006), or alcohol use (Borsari & Carey, 2006). According to Liu (2007) in today's text-heavy online world, identity expression and establishing social links is through creating a social network profile of oneself on online networks. ...
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